According to a report from the Guardian, the question of whether Donald Trump -- as well as his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner -- will be the subject of multiple federal investigations could be dependent on what is described as a "wealth" of documents being left behind by the outgoing administration.
With President-elect Joe Biden yet to put forth a name for his Attorney General, after saying he would let his nominee decide on any criminal federal prosecutions, the Guardian notes that there is no guarantee that the Biden administration will go after the deposed president once he is not shielded by the presidency after January 20th.
Trump is already facing investigations by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr and New York Attorney General Letitia James involving allegations of tax fraud and the business dealings of the Trump Organization. Federal investigations and the pitfalls that attend them are another matter.
As the Guardian's Ed Pilkington writes, "Any attempt to hold Trump criminally liable in a federal prosecution would be a first in US history," before adding, "Previous presidents have tended to take the view that it is better to look forwards in the name of national healing than backwards at the failings of their predecessor. And for good reasons – any prosecution would probably be long and difficult, act as a huge distraction, and expose the incoming president to accusations that they were acting like a tinpot dictator hounding their political enemy."
However, according to prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who served under special counsel Robert Mueller, ignoring any crimes committed by the president -- including new allegations that Trump is pardoning former associates because they stayed mum during the Mueller investigation -- should not just be ignored.
"If you do nothing you are saying that though the president of the United States is not above the law, in fact he is. And that would set a terrible precedent for the country and send a message to any future president that there is no effective check on their power," Weissman explained before adding, "One of the things we learnt from this presidency was that our system of checks and balances is not as strong as we thought, and that would be exacerbated by not holding him to account."
According to the attorney, the new administration is about to be able to comb through stacks of reports, notes and emails about the Trump administration that were previously denied to congressional investigators.
Those, in turn, could be used to revive precious investigations or launch brand news one that could lead to criminal charges against the soon-t-be ex-president, his oldest daughter and her husband.
As Pilkington wrote, "There are several possible ways in which the justice department could be forced to confront the issue of whether or not to take on Trump. One would be through a revelation as yet unknown, following the emergence of new information.
"Weissmann points out that the Biden administration will have access to a wealth of documents that were previously withheld from Congress during the impeachment inquiry, including intelligence agency and state department files," the report states. "Official communications sent by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump through their personal emails and messaging apps – an ironic move given the flak Hillary Clinton endured from the Trump family in 2016 for using her personal email server – may also become available for scrutiny."
The report notes that Trump's use of presidential pardon power during his final days in office could also open up new avenues to be investigated.